Is Carlo Ancelotti the Right Man To Take Chelsea Forwards?
I was both surprised and intrigued by Chelsea's decision to appoint Carlo Ancelotti as successor to Guus Hiddink, who is, of course, honouring his contract to manage the Russian national team until the 2010 World Cup.
After the costly mistake of Luiz Felipe Scolari last season, I cannot help but feel that wealthy owner Roman Abramovich may have made another error in appointing the Italian.
Ancelotti spent eight seasons at Milan, traditionally one of the biggest clubs in Italy, yet only managed one Serie A title during that time—won five years ago. Given how average Italy's biggest clubs have been made to look by England's finest in European competition in recent years, winning just one title during that period of time is hardly spectacular.
Rather more impressive is the two European cups his side won during that time. However, triumph in the cups has often been at the expense of league success, whilst in '07/'08, Ancelotti's side only made the last 16 of the Champions League, and finished fifth in Serie A.
They improved last season, finishing third, but never really looked like challenging for the title.
Another concern is the age of Ancelotti's squad at AC Milan. Ancelotti is known for becoming close to his players, and perhaps sometimes he is not tough enough to let them go when the time is right, leading to Milan's decline in recent seasons.
He appears to have made the wrong call on talented youngster Yoann Gourcuff, who has torn apart the French league whilst on loan at champions Bordeaux this season, and is now set to sign for them permanently.
Meanwhile, Ronaldinho has failed to recapture his form at Milan under Ancelotti, taking a position in the team which Gourcuff could well have filled.
His lack of faith in youth, and love of older players, could be a problem for Chelsea, who have several players in their 30s who may need to be moved on sooner rather than later.
Ancelotti's Milan side were embarrassed in the 2005 champions league final, when they somehow threw away a 3-0 lead against a Liverpool side seemingly dead and buried at the end of the first half. Ancelotti must at least take some blame for such a spectacular collapse—is it possible he allowed complacency to set in at half time?
Essentially, Ancelotti was sacked by Milan. Chelsea and their new boss may claim otherwise, but the fact is Milan were glad that Chelsea were willing to take their boss off their hands
To be fair to Abramovich, there are few alternatives to Ancelotti. As I mentioned earlier, Hiddink is heading back to Russia, and there would be little chance of tempting managers from rival clubs, such as Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez, to the Bridge.
On the continent, the only option that jumps out at you, is of course, Inter Milan's Jose Mourinho.
However, given the circumstances in which Mourinholeft Stamford Bridge, and the successful season he has enjoyed with the Italian Champions, it could be tough to tempt him back to England. But if there was anyway of bringing Mourinho back, Abramovich would be a fool not to.
Another possibility is Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola, who has enjoyed a good first season in management at West Ham. Zola would be a popular appointment amongst Chelsea fans, and although he is inexperienced, he is certainly a talented manager.
I would not be surprised to see Ancelotti depart at the end of the season, to be replaced by either Hiddink, who by that time will be out of contract with Russia, or Zola, providing he enjoys another fruitful season with the Hammers.
Of course, Ancelotti may well prove me wrong, and turn out to be an excellent appointment for the Blues. But whatever happens, this is Chelsea—so it's sure to be exciting!
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